Seismic mapping trucks to return

An Ohio seismic mapping company will be making its way through Marietta in early July, nearly a year after heavy vibrations created by a Texas seismic mapping company caused area residents to complain of the lack of notice and intrusiveness of the project.

The vibrations created last July by vehicles from Tidelands Geological Company (TGC) of Plano, Texas were likened to an earthquake by some taken by surprise by the large trucks moving through.

However, this round of testing, to be conducted by Precision Geophysical, Inc. of Millersburg, will be much less intrusive, according to Precision Geophysical President Steve McCrossin.

“We’ve just got a few trucks that are going to be on the road and they make a small vibration, very non-destructive,” said McCrossin.

The trucks move slowly, and at regular intervals stop so a large vibrating metal disk can be lowered onto the road surface from each truck’s undercarriage.

The process creates 2- and 3-dimensional maps of underground formations that are in turn used by oil and gas companies to locate oil- and gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shale deposits thousands of feet below the surface.

McCrossin said Precision’s trucks put out much less energy than those used by TGC last summer.

“We do a great job of monitoring to make sure we’re putting out a safe amount of power,” he added.

Some residents of Harmar say they are concerned the vibrations could cause damage to the older homes in the area when the trucks wind their way through Barber Avenue, and Lord, Elm and Harmar streets.

“I get enough vibration as it is because I live really close to the railroad tracks,” said Barber Avenue resident Eva Perine, 57.

Like many homes in Harmar, Perine’s is an older home and a big vibration like that experienced by many Third Street residents last year would be worrisome, she said.

Just around the corner, Elm Street resident Dorothy Ritchie, 86, echoed that concern.

“What happens if they ruin your house?” asked Ritchie.

Last year, several residents complained of broken items in their homes following the seismic mapping.

Marietta safety-service director Jonathan Hupp said residents will be better notified before the trucks roll through town this time.

Last year, the permits were filed through the Ohio Department of Transportation and residents complained of the lack of notice.

“This company is going to be working with the engineering department to get the word out to residents when it gets closer. And we’ll do our standard mass media notification on the website and Facebook,” said Hupp.

The mapping is part of the ongoing saga of Washington County’s oil and gas exploration, said Bob Chase, chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department at Marietta College.

“The original maps that were drawn up by the geological survey are now changing,” said Chase.

A representative from TGC said the maps created last July are proprietary, so the results are not made available to the public.

However, Washington County is beginning to play a larger role in oil exploration, said Chase.

“Two years ago, Washington County was really at the bottom end of the Utica trend. It wasn’t considered as good of a target. But if companies are successful down here, it will really change those maps,” he said.